International Ice Hockey Federation

‘C’ will be in good hands

‘C’ will be in good hands

Hungary after Marton Vas’ retirement

Published 22.04.2017 10:59 GMT+3 | Author Szabolcs Zavodszky
‘C’ will be in good hands
Istvan Bartalis will be Hungary’s captain after Marton Vas’ retirement from the national team. Photo: Minas Panagiotakis / HHOF-IIHF Images
Hungary will for the first time in 14 years play without former captain Marton Vas but aims at promotion nevertheless.

True change is always a slow process, it never happens one day to the next. All the elements or pieces of one system and processes have to be replaced to have actual change.

Change is positive or negative, change can also be an improvement or a flow in the right direction. The move to something better and brighter in the future with not forgetting about the past is what is happening in Hungarian hockey.

The hockey world has started to notice the country and they know they cannot take them lightly. This is what the state of Hungarian hockey is in right now as Marton Vas, the captain of the Hungarian national team for last season’s top-division World Championship in Russia hung up the national team jersey and stepped aside for the next generation of players who hope to make Hungary a regular entry among the elite nations.

The Hungarian national team was lucky enough to have had team captains that had the same vision of change and improvement as the letter “C” was passed on from Balazs Kangyal to Viktor Szelig, Viktor Tokaji and Marton. When Vas inherited the “C” he had already switched position from being a prolific scoring power forward, who had scored arguably the most famous goal in Hungarian hockey history, to a stay-at-home defenceman and the rock of the blue line that defensive unit was built.

Now Istvan Bartalis will where the “C” with Janos Vas and Balint Magosi joining him on the captaincy team.

“I think I have left the team and the locker room in good hands, there are a couple of guys that are 4-5 years younger than me that I know that I have passed the team onto, good character guys. These guys are now in the situation to carry on what we have built up and to show the younger players the way,” said Vas when he was honoured for his time in the national team after an exhibition game this season. Interestingly enough, his older brother Matyas was one of the referees for the game and his younger brother Janos scored a goal in the 3-1 win over Denmark.

Vas is clearly looking at the big picture as wearing the “C” is not a solo individual position but more of an honour that multiple players are responsible to act like a captain. “I don’t think I had to pass the captaincy on to one, I was passing this on more to the younger players, I was showing them a good example. I hope I was showing the younger players to stay calm and controlled in particular situations, and also shepherd them in the right direction, the direction the team should be going.”

Being a team captain is not only about scoring goals, it is about showing by example, giving a teammate an extra boost to a teammate when things are not going well, to being an extension of the coaching staff on the ice. “The younger players have the assignment of following the older players who will fight with heart and soul to succeed as a national team.”

Hungarian hockey is lucky enough to be in a situation to have a number of players that possess the qualities that a great team leader has. For instance Janos Vas and Andras Benk have all been part of the national team for over a decade and have all been in the top division. Players like Istvan Bartalis and Janos Hari are younger but have also had the “C” on their jersey during the tenure of head coach Rich Chernomaz.

Asked to look into the future and see where the national team could be in five to ten seasons, Vas said: “What I see down the road is that we have a large number of young players that are already in the picture for the national team or are knocking on the door. We have a serious youth system that others will need to take note of and thus having a senior national team that will not be easy to beat.”

Either way it is safe to say that Marton Vas is not leaving the national team in a pair of safe hands but multiple hands that will carry on what the past generation has built up.

Hungary will start the tournament on Saturday afternoon against host Ukraine. Korea-Poland and Austria-Kazakhstan will be the other games on the opening day of the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A. Follow the games on TV or our live stream.


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